Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Rotterdam, Netherlands to attend an international sport congress meeting. In the four days I was in Rotterdam, I noticed a stark difference between the local citizens and those in many other countries. I saw very few overweight people and only one obese person. One.
According to data compiled by Insider Monkey, the Netherlands rank number 6 in the 11 thinnest, skinniest and fittest countries in the world. The overweight population in country is only 13.3%. In sharp contrast, five states in the USA have obesity rates that exceed 35% and the rate exceeds 25% in 46 states. None of the states have obesity rates below 20%. At 22.3%, Colorado has the lowest percent of obese people.
Why are the people in the Netherlands so thin?
Based on my personal observations, here are 5 reasons I think people in this country are so thin.
- Right-sized food portions. When I dined out, the food portions were modest. Not super-sized, not skimpy; but just right.
For you: Dismiss the idea that giant portions are a value to you. Portion sizes right for you, are the best value for your waistline and your health.
- Fresh food. This is a harbor city, so fresh seafood is available. There was an enormous market in the square where fresh seafood, meats, poultry, vegetables and fruits were sold. The market was packed with people.
For you: As often as possible, eat fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. Eat meat, seafood and poultry that has been prepared in a home or a restaurant that uses fresh products. Avoid pre-packaged food loaded with chemicals.
- Cycling and walking for transportation is normal. There are three separate lanes of traffic in Rotterdam. One lane is the sidewalk that is for walking and jogging. Bicycles have a separate lane of traffic with stop signs and traffic lights. The third lane of traffic is set up for vehicles and bus traffic. Best I can tell, no one bemoans walking or cycling as transportation – it is a part of life.
For you: If moving, walking and “exercising” is not as normal as brushing your teeth – you’ve got some work to do. Humans are meant to be active. Change your attitude about being active – no, I don’t mean going out and exercising until you are out of breath and red in the face – and not only will your waistline benefit, your quality of life will too.
- Butter was available for use at meals. Not once did I see margarine that is filled with unhealthy trans fats. (The USDA is requiring that trans fats be removed from all food products in the USA by the end of summer 2018.)
For you: Avoid any food with trans fats. Any food label that has the words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list should be returned to the store shelf.
- Meal enjoyment. Because I was traveling alone, I had the chance to observe others. People enjoyed meal time. It was a chance to socialize, nibble on appetizers and eat slowly during meal time.
For you: Slow down and enjoy your food. Enjoy the people eating with you.
The five tips in this column cost you nothing to implement and they can help you make significant progress towards better health – and a thinner waistline.